September 2…the baseball gods have been busy in Cincinnati…
September 2, 1870: The Cincinnati Red Stockings exacted some revenge on the Brooklyn Atlantics by defeating them, 14-3, in Cincinnati. The Atlantics had broken the Red Stockings 81 game winning streak back on June 14, 1870, in 11 innings. The loss led to cracks in the Red Stocking support system that ultimately led to the end of the professional franchise at the end of the 1870 season.
There was some additional drama to the game, having to do with player behavior. Red Stockings second baseman Charlie Sweasy had gotten into some trouble on August 29 and had been expelled from the Red Stockings baseball club due to “disgraceful” conduct on a steamboat. Sweasy was the Red Stockings’ best home run hitter in 1870, totaling 18, including a grand slam home run to win a game against Portsmouth in the bottom of the ninth inning to win the game, 29-27. Sweasy’s expulsion come as a result of some actions on a steamboat called the “Fleetwood” on the way home from Portsmouth following a game on August 26. From “Redleg Journal” by Greg Rhodes and John Snyder:
“According to the captain of the boat, two or three members of the team, including Sweasy, were drunk and began fighting at the breakfast table. Calling his behavior “disgraceful,” the club expelled the second baseman on August 29, but took no action against the other players. The club hinted at more suspensions, however, saying it intended to “purge the nine of all intemperate, insubordinate, and disorderly members.” Despite the firm stance, the club reinstated a sorrowful and repentant Sweasy the next day, on the eve of a match against the visiting Atlantics.”
No doubt, the nature of the opponent and Sweasy’s ability had something to do with the forgiveness. The fans apparently gave Sweasy polite applause as he took his place on the field and he “repeatedly touched his cap in grateful acknowledgment.” He proceeded to hit a home run and score three runs in the game.
The Reds were heavily favored to win the National League again in 1971. The only player they had lost from 1970 was ace starting pitcher Jim Maloney who did not win a game for them in 1970 anyway after damaging an Achilles tendon running the bases during a game. In retrospect, that torn Achilles may have been a precursor to the winter and Bobby Tolan’s injury. Tolan tore his Achilles tendon in a Reds’ basketball barnstorming tour in the offseason.